It’s September now, and everyone is busy. Work and school are in full swing. Bags and briefcases are packed, and shoes are cleaned and shined, uniforms and suits pressed. However, it seems as though we’re forgetting something: our mental health.

In Trinidad and Tobago, mental health is not at the forefront of our minds, and there is often no room for it in a discussion. When we think of mental illness, the image of a person in a straitjacket being hauled away into the strange and ambiguous "mad house" comes to mind. We value mental fortitude as a part of our cultural identity, and thus the need for action in the area of mental health is not particularly urgent.

However, mental health issues such as anxiety can be much less dramatic and affect much more people than we might realize.

Symptoms of anxiety

In times of stress, feelings of extreme anxiety are extremely common, and if not dealt with properly, it can affect a person’s entire life. It can have very real symptoms such as:

  • Nervousness, tenseness or restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Feelings of danger or impending doom
  • Feelings of panic
  • Heavy sweating
  • Trembling
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty focusing and being unable to move past the issue you’re worried about
  • Obsessive behavior
  • Avoiding things and people that trigger these feelings

Many people experience these feelings and have no idea how to deal with or prevent them.

Especially in the case of students around this time, it’s important to know how to meet yourself halfway. Here are some Ways to deal with Tasks and take care of yourself so that you don’t get quite so overwhelmed.

Ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed

Set smaller goals: When you have a huge task to complete within a deadline, the workload can seem overwhelming, and it’s hard even to decide where to begin.

That’s why the easiest way to get a large task done is to break it up into smaller, more manageable chunks, setting goals for each one of those smaller tasks. This way there’s much less stress attached to the project, and you can do a little at a time.

Plan everything: When you have a specific idea of how your day is supposed to go, you should set a plan.

Whether you use a planner or the notepad on your phone—you’ll be able to deal with surprises as they come along more efficiently and with less stress. This is because everything won’t be falling into one huge pile in your head that you then have to sift through and make sense of. If you have specific boxes for everything, then you can choose a box that matches the new tasks. Make to-do lists before you got to bed at night or just after you wake up in the morning.

Tidy up: A space free from clutter equals a free mind. It’s tough to concentrate and get things done when you can’t find anything or everything is a mess. Taking some time to clean up our room or your desk will make a huge difference in your concentration and subsequently, the quality of your work.

Exercise: You might have been dreading this one, but here it is: exercise relieves stress and helps you not feel so tired all the time. That’s right, and exercise actually gives you more energy! If you make exercising a habit before long you’ll begin to feel a lot better and a lot more relaxed.

Care for yourself: Take a nice long shower, hydrate your skin, and get a pedicure. All these things helped you feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to take on your week. Make sure you do whatever makes you feel the most relaxed. Remember that sleep counts here too; lack of sleep is a big contributor to stress and anxiety.

Have some fun: Make time to enjoy yourself. Go out with friends, drink some wine (if you’re of legal age to do so, of course), see a movie.

The list goes on. Grab the people you love and live life! You may be working toward a bright future, but remember the journey counts too. Life is much too short to look back at your life and realize you forgot to live.